January 12, 2020

Preserving and Adapting

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We wondered who would come.

Would it be mostly men in the traditional leadership positions, or would there be a greater diversity of voices to help frame the goals of the next five years?

The room slowly filled up: young men, young women (one with her baby), the middle-aged, the elderly matriarchs and the appointed elders, deacons and pastors.

And then in that village church in northern Belize, with its old and solid mahogany pews stacked haphazardly in the back of the sanctuary, its ceiling fans wobbling as they slowly spun the warm and humid air to and fro, and its faded wall posters with Scriptural injunctions in Spanish, we began.

Seated on plastic lawn chairs around those ubiquitous Costco white folding tables, ardent members from the Presbyterian Church of Belize (PCB) began the hard work of strategically planning what their churches would need to do to flourish and grow, rather than remain stagnated and possibly wither away.

(You might be wondering why EduDeo is working with churches. Isn’t EduDeo working with school organizations? However, think of this: if school organizations are owned and supervised by a church organization, the health of the church organization is of significant importance to EduDeo’s mission of Christ-centered education. Makes sense, don’t you think?)

So we began.

Lists were made of what had happened well over in the past years, but the inventory seemed to be overshadowed by some sadness.

But when asked about current weaknesses, church members responded openly about the brokenness of the last two decades due to church conflict. Their lists of weaknesses were a long litany of suppressed hurt, anger and disappointments. There seemed to be longings for healing and a want of reconciliation and forgiveness. Those lists hung sadly on the church walls.

Yet there was a resiliency in this group that did not falter. When asked what needs to happen now, their deep desire to revitalize their church was reflected in their responses. Realistic goals were eagerly adopted; creative strategies of how to reach those goals in the coming years were suggested.

Somewhere in their hearts they knew that if they wished to preserve their much-loved churches communities, they would have to adapt their current order of things. Their impressive attempts at rewriting a new mission statement reflected the need for healing and reconciliation within their churches, before they would have the capacity and energy once again for intentional outreach.

Peter and I were deeply moved by their insights to adapt.

How wonderful that so many came.

Bill de Jager

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